In the comments of an earlier article we were asked to consider the Vegan survivalist. I have been doing some study into the special problems faced by Vegans; this is the result. First, I am not a practicing Vegetarian or Vegan so if I have made any mistakes or presented an insult it is from ignorance, not animosity. Second, I also have not addressed firearms. That topic is adequately covered elsewhere and does not need repeating here. Please feel free to correct any errors that you may discover.
Finally, before we begin, some working definitions:
1) A dietary Vegan does not eat or consume animal products in their diet but may use animal products in other parts of their lives. Leather shoes might be an example.
2) An Ethical Vegan will use no animal byproducts of any kind. Onlyplant-based products are consumed in any phase of living. Cotton clothes but no wool for example.
3) Vegetarians are typically less strict about animal byproducts than a Vegan but consume food that is mostly plant based. Some Vegetarians eat cheese, honey and other such items. Others will also eat fish or eggs but no meat.
I will address Vegans as I see them encompassing the problems of the Vegetarians as well. At first glance the problems of surviving for a Vegan are not so different that the rest of us. Initially, Vegans will need to draw from their store of supplies. The stores may be more difficult to obtain since not all bulk supplies are Vegan friendly. Many bulk supplies, while not containing animal products, are not ‘certified’ Vegan. For some foods, like whole wheat, this is probably not an issue, for others, it may be. Freeze dried fruits, bulk grains, and vegetables like potato flakes would all fit into the diet.
TVP is a source of protein that can be used to supply equivalent nutrition to animal protein. With this and items like peanut butter, peanut or canola oil, powdered potatoes, etc., a year or more of food can be stockpiled for use. Plant milk and meat substitutes complete the picture.
‘Trail food’ can be obtained easily enough. The Omnivore may go after jerky or some honey-based bar. The Vegan can go for a fruit and nut (no honey) trail mix or bars like the ‘Bora Bora’ bars which have a great taste, provide calories, and are Vegan friendly. As a diabetic I carry them as an emergency food source.
The difficulty begins with the recognition that a Vegan diet may be deficient in necessary vitamins and minerals. While we all must be aware of our dietary needs, Vegans must be very careful to get enough iron, B12, fatty acids, omega-3 and so on. In a SHTF scenario with its associated stress this is even more critical. When the foods don’t contain these elements, supplements must be provided or alternate foods sought. This need expands the requirements of the larder to provide for these items. The standard caution of eating the foods you plan to survive on applies so that your body is accustomed to the foods you will be eating.
Areas of Concern
A main concern for the Vegan is what happens when the larder begins to empty. Not every climate or location is conducive to growing the variety of foods a Vegan needs. Mushrooms are a good protein source but must be started before SHTF. Soy, rice, peanuts and such may need more acres of land than available for sufficient food. Potatoes are a good crop once you learn how to grow them. A system like ‘square foot gardening’ is useful for small areas. This system allows for some needed variety in the menu. The point is that where an Omnivore may go take game or fish if needed, the Vegan must plan a garden ahead for all needs and be able to grow those items themselves.
An additional problem in long-term survival is the reluctance to use animal products in even non-food ways. Some items may become unobtainable once the industrial infrastructure begins to dissolve. Living on a self sufficient farm is a goal for most of us, for the Vegan it can become necessary unless they are willing to relax their objection to animal by-products that are not used in food items. In climates where cotton doesn’t grow wool may be the only option for clothing. Bio-diesel can be made from waste vegetable oil but it requires preparation now so that the capability exists after SHTF. The same issues apply to candles. If bee’s wax is off limits, how are you planning to make candles for light? Oil lamps will work but just how many acres do you have in peanuts or olives?
Even more so than for the Omnivore, a Vegan must take a hard look at their life style and determine realistic numbers for how much of various things they use. If they do not live in an area where they can produce their own foods and clothing, then stockpiling is the only answer. Surviving SHTF is possible; surviving TEOTWAWKI will be extremely difficult without living in an area where Vegan sustaining farming is possible or you have access to vast amounts of wild plants that you canforage.